Wednesday, 17 January 2018

The "Rustmobile"

And now for something completed different….

My friend’s new offering of Mad Max racing boats (see his posts building of and game) had me reminisce about the time I created a Mad Max style vehicle made from a toy model of a HMMV (Hummer).  A long time ago, one of the more creative members of the club came up with a game that would have armed and armoured vehicles race around laps through an obstacle course in Mad Max themed mayhem.
Each item of defence or attack or other aspects like driver qualities had a point system so hypothetically each player was equal with different equipment.  The points were linked to the dice rolls in attack or defence if I recall correctly.

I took the toy Hummer and cut the top off, added plastic sheets for armor, a flame-thrower on the front and a heavy machine gun/bolter in the back. The vehicle’s crew are old Games Workshop Orks (roughly 28mm sized.  The model about 5 inches / 12 cm long) .  The rules included pit stops so I made one including a goblin mechanic holding a large screw driver tool and decorated with tool boxes and bits of rusted metal found on an old construction site and splotches of oil stains.

Built and driven by Orcs, I figured they were not into aesthetics nor maintenance and so I painted the thing as a rusted out piece of sh*t.  It was quickly named by other players the “Rustmobile”

Based on the point system related to the effectiveness, one could choose any sort of propulsion system (track, wheel, rocket), amount of armor, type of weapons etc.  I went for heavily armoured, slow and poorly driven (they ARE Orks are they not?) saving those points to give me firepower up front with a flamer, and in the rear with a heavy bolter gun.

This was years ago mine you, but still remember one game in which I started the game at the very back of the field but within three laps had burnt any vehicles in front or shot up any vehicle which had the temerity to try to lap me; thus winning the race!

Like bringing out of storage the old stuffed bear you had as a kid, it is fun to dig out an old model and give it a view.

Saturday, 13 January 2018

The battles of El Nowhere-a

It was the monthly club night and being available WillB and I decided to again bring out the collections of "colonials" for a game of "The Men Who Would Be Kings" ( TMWWBK) rules.

In this case his WW1 Kings African Rifles would face my 1920's era French Foreign Legion  somewhere in what is now modern day Mali during a border dispute in 1927.
My French Foreign Legion contingent in action near El Nowhere-a 
Will's KAR 

We were joined by the two Jims,  JimF becoming "French Jim" and JimL becoming "British Jim".

We rolled for our commanders and poor French Jim rolled double ones which left him with an absolute poor leadership rolls to make all game long.  Mine were only a bit better but the leadership number in these rules are extremely critical.  Will did very well with his British rolls, "British Jim" not as much.  
The old mud 'temple' is one of those mash paper paste packing crates and one found in my brother's recycle bin at Christmas.  The original and rather too regular oval top opening was enlarged and made ragged and a few wood rods glued in to give the impression of a fallen roof. I didn't put much time into it in any event.   The 'market' is from Will's collection of terrain pieces.
 The tents are old 'dixie' paper water cups, cut down and overturned. Now OOP I assume.

Again I will not go into the details of the game, mainly as I cannot remember them (!)  not having them jotted down at the time as I do when doing solo play. But do remember my machine gun giving the British "Hero of the Empire" unit a couple of casualties causing a pinning and later another poor roll by Will in their rally test thus have them depart the battle rather early in the contest. One could say they did a ignoble scarper or if you want the British perspective, you can read Will's post at link

 However the French could not move with their poor leadership and the firepower of the British eventually overwhelmed the legionnaires.  
The elite FFL under what had become rather dubious leadership.

With a rapid conclusion of that battle, we had time for another.  We changed the table orientation to allow the forces to get at it quicker.  We also forego any leadership trait rolls opting for a universal 6+ for each side. The elite Foreign Legion having +2 discipline, the KAR +1 as per the unit points.  
British Jim's unit in soft cover of the market during the second engagement.

Again in this game, numbers would overwhelm quality, with the poorer shooting KAR getting more shots into the outnumbered but elite Legion who could make most but not all the necessary pinning and rally tests required of them from the lead flying their way.  
This will probably be the outcome, tactical mistakes not withstanding, with most regulars vs regulars actions.  In more asymmetrical battles, this may not be the case.  

Two tents.  Will B. suggested I should try to relax.

You can get the British perspective with Will's very nice write-up on the games (see:link)

Friday, 12 January 2018

The 2nd Battle of El Blundar

After the debacle against the Arabs, see my previous post for details [link ] , the Legion assigned those officers to less dangerous posts and assigned new officers to command the escort of the donkey train to a distant fort....or in other words I rolled up their new characteristics.  Not too bad with good numbers and only one coward! He must had been a Flashman type as his leadership was very good meaning the unit will follow orders and maintain cohesiveness but not allowed to get near the enemy charge distance. Oh well, shooting will be the standard tactic this day.

The rules certainly do not require officer characteristics and these smack a bit of role-playing.  There are more generalized charts to establish command qualities; rolling a 1 will give you a fairly poor leadership, a 6 very good; and this varies being regular or tribal.

In this case I gave the French Foreign Legion units very good commanders and reduced the firepower of the Arabs giving them 'tribal' status which gives them more units and better fighting characteristics.

With the forces set, the battle plans were made.  The Arabs would again wait in ambush withholding fire...what worked once will work again.  The legionaries with knowledge of the ambush would attack the southern flank of the wadi and roll up the line. The machine gun on the left would cover any attack over the open ground and the middle rifle unit would be a fire reserve.  Thusly the Legion's right flank rifle unit, the 1st company,  advanced in skirmish formation and started firing into the wadi full of the waiting desert men.  The close range shooting did significant casualties prompting that unit to lose heart and vanish into the desert. The tribe beside it seemed unaffected by such self-preservation and were not pinned. Indeed that unit fired at the 2nd company who were at long range for the Arab's obsolete weapons causing no hits among the riflemen.
The 1st company in firing position.
Using their free actions, the 'right flank' Arab units moved along the wadi toward their 'left' and the advancing FFL to prevent the enfilading of their position.  Despite the protection of the wadi, the legionnaire's 'sharpshooter' status paid off as the Arabs suffered many casualties and continued to be pinned in the wadi.

While the firefight was going on at the wadi, to the north-west, the two units of Arabs emerged from behind the hill and advanced upon the FFL left held by the machine gun.  Despite the 'free action' which allows the tribal forces to move without an leadership/activation test, they had a lot of flat desert to cross and the machine gun opened up at long range causing casualties and with pinning tests and subsequent failed rally tests, very quickly both Arab units were swept away by the effective (read: lower dice roll required for hits) of the well-manned legionnaire gun.
Arab units in the wadi with casualties markers and pinned indicators.  Masters of concealment aren't they!

The second company having briefly helped the machine gun deal with the western attack, they now moved to the right and with the combined firepower of the formed up 1st company, quickly dissipated further Arab resolve.

The path to the fort now lay open.
Due to having only two units of rifles and only one machine gun, I was 'forced' to upgrade them significantly to obtain the prescribed 24 points of a field force.  As I have no intention of increasing the legionary numbers and think the upgrades suit the perceived quality of the FFL in any event, I am very pleased the numbers which happened to be in the purchase do work for the game.

Of obtaining and painting the Arabs?  I actually think the use of the sisal mats quite interesting as I can place the markers directly on them and think they play the part well.  Could use dust storms with coloured cotton batting, but I have more of the sisal and will, I think, cut appropriately sized circular patches.


Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Cardboard 40 years old now...

The new year inevitably brings thoughts of our time and the ever lengthening of our life.
This hit home within days of the change of the calendar when using a piece of thick card I have been employing to primer figures....for 40 years now!

I remember buying cheaply (I must assume) the board game 'Alexander'.  This was in 1978 in my junior year in high school.  I never caught that particular bug and so have not acquired the taste for wargames using chits and hexes.  Obviously I thought the board very sturdy and so it was put to "better use".

But FOURTY BLEEPING YEARS?!  Ugh.  It might well be the oldest thing I still own......

"Alexander" board section.  I suppose I should take solace in that I did not deface the playing surface.
The abused backside from 40 years of use albeit mostly covered in newspaper while being used

Saturday, 6 January 2018

Engagement at El Blundar. FFL action.

January 6, 1927

Dear Mere,

I have my arm bandaged but do not worry as I was lucky to receive but a minor scrape.  I am afraid many were not so fortunate.  

Yes the bullets were flying but only from the Arabs. (see previous post for pre-action report

The first shots mowed down our machine gun crew along with its officer in the first moments. The remaining soldier made a runner quickly thereafter.

We literally did not see the enemy the whole time, with them in cover, the dust and the smokeless powder of their rifles.  They are very good shots and surprisingly well-led with the ability to keep up the fusilade.  

We just could not reply. Once the casualties immediately occurred, we were pinned and could only try to rally with the sergeants and corporals yelling us to keep together. Our officers were useless. That is all we could but try, sometimes with our superior discipline to keep order.  Then another round of fire would occur and again all we could do is rally.  No order could be given to fire back.

I did hear the rattle of the Arab machine gun but it quickly stopped for a time but later would add to our woes.  

Within minutes all our units were moving away from the enemy.  Surprisingly the volume of fire diminished and a new unit, unseen by many but I am told was ready to pounce upon us from a slight rise but did not make any move nor did any from the wadi.  It is what saved us from total destruction. Nevertheless, we had 16 casualties from 31 of us who started the battle.  

I know that you like animals and can be relived to know the donkeys had more sense than our officers and bolted immediately and thus were well out of range and thus spared.  

I am tired but hopeful our next battle will fair better.  
Love to the family 

Editor notes:  While the discipline of the Legionnaires was very good at +2, the poor officers I foisted upon them rolling for officers at 9+  - ugh - certainly did not help the die rolls.  The units lasted longer than one could hope but it just meant they were in for another round of fire.  The arabs activation was universally good (of course I would roll well FOR THEM as, if you were like me, cheering for my newly painted unit of the French Foreign Legion….) but like the narrative letter above indicates, the hot streak of the Arab's activation would lessen eventually and allowing the Legion to retire.

“The Men Who Would Be Kings” rules do have their quirks and should units fail to un-pin, little can be done with them but given the scenario, probably a logical outcome.
The rules do allow for a more respectable 'choice' of leadership.  Random dice still, but giving more competent leadership quality.  My roll for the Arabs was exceptional of course!.
Note the substantially fewer models, and the pin markers.  My 'desert dice' on show.  You need lots of dice for TMWWBK.
Arab units somewhere in the distance unseen.

Friday, 5 January 2018

The new FFL

The Wargame Narrative

January 5, 1927

Dear Mere,
Happy New Year  
Sorry to not have written for sometime now but, really nothing to write about. We must still do our chores, clean the latrines, clean up, do the laundry.

But yes, some fun stuff too like get ready for our march into the desert to relieve a small fort near the mountains.  For us it will be a new experience.  Recently we veterans were grouped together in a new unit and given a fresh ‘regimental touch-up’ .

Of the trek I cannot say much. I am told it will be a boring travel over flat, featureless terrain and we will probably not see the natives should they dare to have at us.

We are commanded by officers we are not familiar with, so none know their quality - more on that later!  But we are of the Legion Etrangere Francaise so can probably overcome any deficiencies of any officer foisted upon us.

                                                                                                                        Page Deux

The march is well under way under the unrelenting sun.  Sous-lieutenant Premiermort turned to the sergeant and stated he “has a feeling the natives are close”  We look around but see nothing but flatness, a broken line of thin bush and heat waves.

Then the bullets start flying….


My preparations for the game:

I gained this collection of French Foreign Legion c. 1920s , as a fellow wargamer quietly brought a box of partially painted figures of mixed origin to the club.  A kinda aborted project he needed space and put a very low price on them.  Normally I do not buy painted figures but this was a good bargain and he gave me puppy dog eyes :)

 Originally I was going to re-primer but upon further viewing decided to just touch up and give them a wash.  With two coats of dullcoat I am pleased with the results. Not my usual style of painting but certainly do play the part well; the “regimental touch-up” as noted in the letter above. Also note that veterans means experienced by another - like pre-owned cars and 'experienced' golf balls....

The number of figures were pleasantly perfect to create a complete Field Force to which I added a few smaller sized donkeys I had waiting for some paint,  to include for any scenario design and simply because they look good together!

As the previous owner super glued the figures to the bases and had applied a couple of different methods of basing using sand,  I could not redo the basing - at least not with a heck of lot of effort! - and so did what I could to make myself happier with the bases. While not ideal, the GW round bases are not bad for the type of game.
A mixed collection of manufactures including I think (?) Old Glory and Tiger Miniatures
The basing is still a work in progress. Might dry brush additional sand colours and add a bit of dead grass to cover up the obvious figure's base lines.
The donkeys baggage train.  Many scenarios employ baggage for victory conditions.

Re-reading the above "Narrative" preamble, the reader will induce a number of issues which will influence the game.  Boring terrain for example as I have nothing for North Africa!  And of not seeing any natives?  It will certainly be the case as, again, I have none to play with and so the game will be the ultimate solo affair ; without another player, without terrain and without an enemy!  All will be up to my imagination and the dice.
The featureless terrain - as I have little for this period and region.  The scrub is brown lichen and the clumps of 'straw' are markers for the hidden Berbers.  They are obviously masters of the art of fieldcraft and are impossible to I have none! ;)

I am using “THE MEN WHO WOULD BE KINGS” rules by Dan Mercey for colonials.  Among its fun characteristics is that of rolling for the traits of the officers commanding each unit.  Well, as
suggested by our legionarire writer to his dear mother, my die rolling poor, as it often is, was to foist officers of 1-2, 1-3, and 6-5 onto the three units of my field force.  That is to say, one officer has “ a fine moustache” (which indeed the diced for figure actually does have!) but he is very poor commander ; as is #2 but he is “bullet-proof” so unlikely to die and bring in a better rated sergeant!   And for the machine gun, it’s officer is short-sighted so the machine gun cannot fire to advantage at long range targets…

And as I determined the officers not to be of the highest quality, they did not think to have scouts and so will be ambushed accordingly.

The terrain, what there is of it, has a small dry stream bed behind thin scrub to hide three groups of riflemen with modern arms together with a machine gun but poorly handled.  The fourth rifle unit was in hiding laying down behind an almost indiscernible rise of land.

The two Legion rifle units are in line of march with the machine gun and baggage mules between.

Each side has 24 points.

We start the game with the bullets flying….


Friday, 29 December 2017

a terrain piece 'well' done?

Often those little pieces one creates gives the most pleasure.  With a bit (Ok, a lot(!)
of time) and a chunk of self-hardening clay, a nice little piece for the table can be made.
It is nice that it can be universal and will undoubtedly show up on many of my battlefields.
as seen in a recent game within a Japanese village
(to the left is a interesting white stone I made into a Zen mediation stone complete with seat!)

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

A 'Tripe'-ful Sad

DaveMc likes his WW1 air game so again hosted for the Monday Night group.
 "Do we want a scenario?" he asks.  "What is the point?", I suggest, "Everyone always ignores it and just chases each other."  Nods of heads all around.
"Shoot'em-up it is", he agrees.

The early selectors had German planes for this 'Late War' game, so I used my British Sopwith Triplane, the "Tripe", and after looking at the stats and flight characteristics, is a very unimpressive plane. Only one machine gun, few maneuvers and slow. Certainly not late war material. Perhaps I should have used my Pup!  But heck, I did recently build it so I might as well fly it.
My new Sopwith Triplane  fuzzy in the foreground, while Snoopy flying a Sopwith Camel, is looking for targets. (Snoopy was a McDonald's toy provided to me a long time ago by ChrisO and he wanted to fly him once again. I built a doghouse painted appropriately around it)

My game highlights: I had a shot against ace PierreS. Whoo-ho. But with one gun and a roll of a not too much to report....

And I did get shot down. Again.  While, yes, the coup-de-gras was a few bullets during that fateful turn, most of my damage came from a collision from a British (!) plane flown by FrancisM, who after entering my airspace (read: hex) with a fancy maneuver (I was flying straight mind you) decided to roll a double 1s for the chance of the collision.  Well, as my fellow gamers know, as well as my regular readers,  I ALWAYS roll 1s.  And double 1s, while supposedly statistically rare, are quite common for me.  So, of course, I rolled them and wails of laughter burst forth.  I then rolled a nice and low 1 for HIS damage.  He did not kindly do the same for me.  After checking off my damage, the German plane then had his go at me.  My tail was shot off.  Sigh.
New plane, same result.

a couple of pictures from the game

Sunday, 19 November 2017

"Real Life Wargame Trees"?

Out of the vault of miscellaneous photos, I came across this one which was taken sometime in the summer during a round of golf at a local course.

I think you may already know why I have posted this.  Does it not look like a tabletop version of wargaming trees?  Complete with the oval base and completely devoid of underlying vegetation.

Just struck me as interesting that is all.

And how is your golf game, you might ask?  Well, dare I say as poor as my dice rolling....although I do score 6 and often even 10s!  Strokes that is.... sigh....

Monday, 6 November 2017

Dragon Rampant game

WillB claimed first dibs on hosting at the club's Friday Bonsor game night.  Jim and I offered our long dormant collections to the cause and I also offered to bring some additional terrain pieces.
As it were, he was late in arriving so I spread my desert type mat. This is a Hotz 'Wild West' mat showing roads in a darker colour which we would incorporate by placing walls and buildings in the corners to hide these darker areas; creating "corners" to which we each would place our retinues.  Having arrived, Will offered his very old fantasy catapult as the objective; the winner having moved it off his corner of the table by placing a unit onto and using that unit's move activation to maneuver it.  Only Will finally made an effort at it, as the rest of us were simply attacking each other made interesting as we rolled for allied-manship and had each friendly retinue kitty-corner to each other.
the overall game with 28mm-ish figures and a real mix of miniatures.  

In typical Rampant style, luck, dice and maybe good tactics produced an entertaining game.  You can read more about it at Will's blog ( link ) as I will not bore you with a blow by blow.
My purple cloaked heavy foot in a staring contest with Jim's Skinks.

On my part, my heavies had apparently armour the quality of tinfoil and swords made of wood.  And my dice rolling...well..... The following photo speaks volumes .....
My lone Heavy Horse Tekon rider battered and my usual dubious dice rolling......

Nevertheless had fun which is the point.